Smart heating system?
This is the first time I have seen the use cases for such a system so clearly enumerated. Very well done, Mr Dabbs!
Three weeks into 2021 and we’ve run out of the leftovers at last. Things tend to get somewhat overcooked over the traditional holiday period and I’m pleased to see the back of them. They were getting hard to digest. I am of course talking about last-year business data summaries and tech predictions for the next 12 months. They …
I'd left my dumb heating controller on its frost setting while away for several weeks, returning to find the house at a toasty 26C and the gas meter spinning like a demented fruit machine. If they can attach some of those robot arms to a Hive so that I can thwack a sticking motorized valve from a distance of 2000km, I might consider it worth the investment.
A good number of people, as they are driving to the airport for a family holiday, are haunted by thoughts of 'Did I leave the gas / iron / heating on?'
The ability to check and remotely turn off such things would bring peace of mind to many individuals.
Of course many people are friends with their neighbours and leave them a key. Others folk though, perhaps new to to an area, or too busy, haven't built that level of trust.
When I used to work away from home for the week or go on a trip, I'd make a list (pen and paper), of things to pack and things to shut off/check, put the bin out etc, and cross them off the list as I attended to each. The last thing on the list was lock the door. Doing that last item means I am outside with list in hand. That goes into the jacket pocket, and if a doubt creeps in later, I could always check. And yes, check gas/iron/heating was on the list.
When I was a kid, you often woke up to frost on the INSIDE of the windows (I'm not making that up).
When we went on holiday, my dad just flipped the Master Switch on the fuse box in the pantry, and turned the gas main knob all the way off before locking the front door.
He's a bit past all that now.
I had to buy one of those SeKi remote controls (it has only four or five buttons which it 'learns' from other remotes as you require) and programmed them all to 'OFF', because with his failing eyesight and what appears to be an aversion at the genetic level to any form of technology - I've asked many times if I am adopted - he cannot use the Virgin remote to power down at night without switching inputs, turning on subtitles, and bringing up the planner.
"[...] who would only buy Bentleys because they still had a crank [...]"
Back in the 1970s I had a Range Rover. The 3.5 litre engine had a low compression head so that it ran on low octane fuel. It also had a starting handle. One day my burly rugby-playing house-mate decided to try starting the engine that way. After several attempts barely getting it to budge he gave up.
Going on a project to Sweden in winter I fitted the optional second battery and split charger as a sensible precaution. On the other hand - my Mini-Moke could be started by running alongside it in first gear- then jumping in when it fired.
"On their return, his first job was disposing of the recently installed chest freezer and its contents."
I have a solar/battery backup for my chest freezer. They are so efficient that they don't draw all that much power so lend themselves to a pretty simple solar back up. My concern is the contents thawing and then refreezing while I'm away. That can be rather dangerous and you won't realize it's happened sometimes unless the next time you thaw something to cook, it smells off when it thaws.
What you should so is place an ice lolly, preferably something nice and brightly coloured, in a clear plastic bag, at the top of the freezer, in a vertical position. If you come back, and it's solidified in a flat lump at the bottom of the clear bag, you'll know that your freezer defrosted and re-froze.
Is this a chest freezer thing? Our upright freezer has an alarm that tells if the temperature has gone up too far. Last consulted at the beginning of December lockdown when a power cut in mid morning lasted well into the early hours. Fortunately we still have gas fires and a gas hob so still had one form of heating and cooking. It was a reminder that going all-electric (and that includes trendy heat pumps) creates a single point of failure.
When we went on holiday, my dad just flipped the Master Switch on the fuse box in the pantry, and turned the gas main knob all the way off before locking the front door.
Did he also unplug the TV aerial in case there was a thunderstorm? Mine did.
(We didn't have the problem with the freezer. It was in the garage, on a separate circuit. I suppose the local scallies could have tapped into that while we were away, but generally they didn't have the nous not to fall off ladders or stab each other with screwdrivers, so the lecky was comparatively safe.)
“ frost on the INSIDE of the windows”
Judging by the number of big old houses with single glazed sash windows that I see 'round here, I'd say that there's probably still a lot of people who see frost on the inside of windows. I live in a small old house so I can afford to insulate it:)
There certainly was such a time. We used to regularly get frost patterns on the big west facing half landing window on many mornings when I was an Icklun, and occasionally on the 2'6" thick walls - especially in the kitchen for some reason.
And this was in Pembrokeshire! Mildest microclimate in the whole of the UK (THREE potato crops a year, doncha know?)
If I'm going to be away for a few weeks, I simply switch off the main switch before going out of the door. While that means that it would be completely impossible to access any "smart" devices in the house (if I had any), it automatically ensures that the heating will stay off, and nothing can have been left on (all my cooking is electric). It also means that none of the devices usually left switched on in "standby" as well as phone chargers etc. cannot develop a fault and burn the house down.
I'd make a list (pen and paper), of things to pack and things to shut off/check
I do that. Unfortunately it doesn't have the negative things on it, specifically "don't go to the airport with your wife's car keys still in your coat pocket". That didn't do much for my popularity.
> it doesn't have the negative things on it
Not negative: The correct phrasing would be "Check pockets", which works to catch all kind of stuff you shouldn't take on your trip, not only your wife's keys, but also a receipt for the dry cleaner or some pocket knife which would be confiscated.
I once turned our neighbours water supply off in the street when they had a leaking radiator and had gone out - one of the escape routes was down our side of the dividing wall between the properties.
You should heard the language when they got back and found my note on the door !
".. grabbing for the key, the empty pocket telling you that you just locked yourself out, "
which is why you want to be in the habit of locking things with the key. I had a roommate that would frequently lock his car with the button inside and realize the keys were still in the ignition as soon as the door latched. Since I was self-employed, he'd call me to bring him the spare set from his room. Good thing he managed a hardware store and could provide suitable payment for that retrieval service. Half the equipment in my shop was purchased at cost. Small parts and pieces might have via midnight requisition. I didn't ask.
is trounced by the ability to be organized and methodical and check to ensure that you don't leave the house with the gas still on.
Inviting hackers into your house with stupid-security IoshiTe stuff is not a solution because if you can check and turn off, a hacker acan check and turn on.
All of these automated thingamajigs are turning our brains into much and giving us the focus and attention span of a goldfish. Use your brain, do not trust automated whatevers.
Actually, the Cosmonauts have been using the very same Fisher Space Pen as the Astronauts since 1969. The Astronauts started using them in 1968's Apollo 7 mission.
Both used pencils before Paul Fisher used his own money to develop the Space Pen. Pencils were not optimum for space use for many reasons.
NASA bought it's first lot of 400 pens for $2.95 each in December of 1967.
Russia bought it's first batch of 100 pens in 1969.
For more, see www.spacepen.com ... I'm not affiliated in any way, yadda yadda yadda.
"Of course many people are friends with their neighbours and leave them a key. Others folk though, perhaps new to to an area, or too busy, haven't built that level of trust."
Surely they would still have friends/family that aren't too far away. Leave a case of good ale, a bottle of something special or a few bucks depending on the person you would call and tell them they are welcome to the bounty if they will just nip by and double check you didn't leave the HVAC set to something crazy for an empty house. Far cheaper than fitting those stupid IoT gadgets and relying on them working properly. Tell me there's a a supply of Guinness available for the taking if I just stop by and make a quick check and somebody will need to re-verify the speed of light just to be sure it is unbreakable.
> The ability to check and remotely turn off such things would bring peace of mind to many individuals
As would the presence of mind to check that before leaving. It's all about being organized, and not any more challenging than thinking of putting on your socks before you put on your shoes.
Maybe smart heating makes more sense in France where 'dumb' heating consists, for the most part, of an electric emersion heater and a set of eye-wateringly expensive-to-run electric convection heaters.
Plus the Economy7 style heures creuses/pleines.
Tado° for A/C-Heating has saved me a fair packet on the electricity bill these last years. Not returning home to a place that takes days to get up to temperature is a bonus. (But a bonus that has only paid out once this year.)
"And when will France find out about timers that keep time during power cuts? I had to import one via Amazon UK."
Amazon? Gak. I get much better pricing on eBay, Banggood and Aliexpress. I have a box of them sitting behind me. I strip out the mains components and make camera remotes from them for rocket launches.You have to make sure what you buy has a battery backup. There are plenty that lose their settings if the power goes off.
For me personally, lockdown actually improves the case for getting smart heating. The thing is I currently have a dumb thermostat with a week-scheduler which works for me so well that, before lockdown, I actually changed my phone more frequently than I changed the heating settings.
This means that I would have spent more time installing the app on each new phone than I would have actually adjusting anything.
That all changed with lockdown: I had to modify the schedule when we all began working from home in March and, assuming we start going into offices in the next two years or so, I will need to put the schedule back to what it was. That means that if I had had a smart-heating app on my current phone I may have been able to use it twice! What a missed opportunity.
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""Dishwasher needs emptying""
A friend had a "to do" list marked weekly for her three kids. Filling and emptying the dishwasher were rotated between them. The middle boy often used to pay his little sister to do his turn. He is now some sort of City trader. She is a perpetually poverty-stricken resting actor.
Why do we say this every time after a good belly laugh?
Thank you, Mr Dabbs. The sweary bit made my day. I suppose I'm easily amused but, having heard the story of a 70cms repeater that was shut down because the numpties at Winter Hill couldn't unlock their cars with the keyfob (what the fuck is wrong with using the key, anyway?) I have to admit a physical switch, button, key, handle or plain old analogue hammer of last resort beats tech every sodding time.
(what the fuck is wrong with using the key, anyway?)
I'd have to find the keyhole first - I genuinely can't remember where they are. Don't think I have ever used one on either of the two cars I regularly drive. I just walk up and press a button on the door handle. And another on the dash/console. The remotes are deep down in a bag I always carry.
You'd think but it depends on the car these days. Most of them have a smart key which requires some disassembly to get to the point there is something that looks like ye olde key to even put in the slot, assuming you can find said slot.
A mate of mine recently had a cottage up in Aviemore, and ended up there for much longer than originally intended due to Covid. When the snow hit he skidded in to a ditch in his new car, and when he was being pulled out by the local farmer and his tractor he had to google where to find the towing eye and how to fit it, as driver's handbooks are now online as well. Or, seeing as it was a BMW, a very expensive optional extra that he didn't order.
Mind you he should have been prepared for this, given that he's a terrible driver and has in some way crashed every vehicle he's owned in all the years I've known him.
> You'd think but it depends on the car these days. Most of them have a smart key which requires some disassembly to get to the point there is something that looks like ye olde key to even put in the slot, assuming you can find said slot
Yeah. I had a "keyless" Mondeo, which as a backup had a "key" embedded inside the remote - it was essentially an elongated "T" - somewhat like a sword which has a hilt, but no handle.
So the idea was that you extract this key, stick it in the lock and then use a groove on the back of the (plastic) remote to turn it.
Which works, but is clunky - and as with the Honda story above, if the battery has died to the point where remote unlocking isn't working, having the keyfob physically in the car doesn't seem to calm the alarm down...
> it was my understanding that the buttons to lock/unlock the car were battery operated, but that the other functions of the fob were passive RFIDish
At least in my 2008-vintage Mondeo, the engine immobiliser was driven from the RFID tag in the remote, but the alarm was very much not.
Oddly, there was a "keyhole" in the steering wheel column where you could insert the remote in the event of any issues. Didn't seem to make a difference to the alarm though, and TBH, I suspect it was there more as a placebo than anything else; at best, all you were doing was bringing the RFID tag closer to the sensor...
That would make a lot of sense, but can't be guaranteed. A friend of mine had a key's battery die, which made the car stop recognizing it. They had a backup but requested my assistance to change the battery as I was already there and there was no battery compartment on the key. After prying open the key to get at the battery and replacing it, the key was now recognized by the car as existing, but not as being a valid key. The car's owner was told to see if the internet or manufacturer could help with it. I'm betting that key is still sitting in a cupboard in an unusable state. I don't want to think about what's going to happen when the backup's battery dies.
...driver's handbooks are now online as well. Or, seeing as it was a BMW, a very expensive optional extra
The good news is that BMW manuals are stored in the entertainment/navigation system so you can view them on-screen in the car. The bad news is that they won't display when the car's moving, so you can't ask your passenger to look something up for you while you're driving.
Assuming that your car battery etc is working fine.....
One of my pet peeves of online manuals (for software at least) is "Chapter One - how to install" But you can only read it after you installed the software.
I have a mental image of a BMW car manual - "Chapter one - how to drive" - I suspect that not many BMW drivers would read it....
That reminds me of the time I'd just picked up a new car from the garage - a Citroen Xantia (beautiful car, BTW).
As was typical, it was running on fumes so I had to go fill it up. As I got out at the fuel station, it quickly dawned on me that cars had progressed somewhat in matters of security - this was 30 years ago, but at least 30 years after any car I'd had before was built - and it was no longer a case of just unscrewing a cap or lifting a flap to access the fuel spout.
I'd chosen a busy supermarket garage, and the time it took me to go through the manual to find out how to release the fuel flap with a hidden switch inside was amplified into what felt like an hour!
The Xantia was indeed an underrated car. I had the turbo-diesel - 50+ mpg, sometimes 60+; capable of high average speeds; handled well in "ground-hugger" mode; went down churned-up rally stages without bottoming in tractor mode. Apparently, if you dropped the suspension to its lowest whilst parked, a clamp couldn't be legally fitted because it would require the actual car body to touched - I never tested that function!
Yep. Mine was the TD, too. Everyone was jealous because it had a rear spoiler and seemed to be a very limited edition - I never saw another with one. I didn't ask for it. It just... came with it.
Beautiful upholstery and trim. And I never had any trouble with the hydraulic suspension.
Ahem! How about: root around in the bottom of the boot to find the threaded towring. Work out how to pop out the little window in the bodywork, without wrecking it*, so that you can screw the towing eye into the socket revealed?
* You might be surprised to hear how much a 5cm square of paint matched plastic with a moulded strap costs.
You missed out a few steps...
After finding the tow ring, spend more time rummaging around to fine the tool to pry open the bodywork window, and also the tool to manually lock the "intelligent gearbox" into neutral, as they have a habit of jumping themselves either into gear or into park mid tow otherwise.
Back to the towing eye, pop the wrong little window because in some territories the eye is on the other side, but they only have one standard bumper part, so the bumper has two windows but only one window contains the eye. Close the wrong window, accidentally scratching the paint, spit on your finger and forlornly rub the now scratched bodywork as if saliva will work like a magic vegan T-cut.
Move into correct window, which is always far harder to remove, tool inevitably slips and cuts finger, and only once blood price has been paid will window open.
Screw towing eye in, then realise you can only do it finger tight, and you need the "tyre iron" to put through the eye to tighten it up the final bit. Re-arrange all the contents of the boot again, to access and retrieve tyre iron.
Open drivers door, and spend 20 minutes trying to prise up the various irritating bits of plastic around the gearbox selector (usually something non sensical like you have to push it down and to the left so it can release upwards to the right, but this can only happen if a 270' turn is exectured mid way through the push and lift process.
Put "gearbox override" tool into flimsy looking plastic slot, and cautiously lever it backwards or forwards to the override position (action is different between different gearboxes) while praying flimsy plastic holder doesn't sheer. Finally clunk override into place, then all the computer screens light up saying gearbox is inoperative, thus continuing to drain the already half gone battery...
Once tow truck finally turns up 6 hours later, get BMW recovered and loaded onto vehicle. At this point you note that despite taking key out and ignition off 6 hours before, the screen is still on happily telling you gearbox is inoperative, but also warning battery is getting low. When you finally get home after a 3 hour trundle on the back of a tow truck, you find that the battery has been fatally discharged and now needs replacing.
We don't own BMWs anymore...
"Last time I saw any, the keyhole was typically in that button on the door handle."
LandRovers used to be ordered from a catalogue of optional items. My elderly 1956 86" CKD had been bought without the optional door locks. To lock the handle you stuck a nail in a hole.
That was the same model which had the petrol filling cap under the driver's seat cushion.
> I'd have to find the keyhole first - I genuinely can't remember where they are. Don't think I have ever used one on either of the two cars I regularly drive.
Up until recently, I owned a slightly aged (2006, so not /quite/ Yoda levels of ancientness) Honda Accord. Which, as with most modern cars, has a battery powered remote locking device built into the key.
And that's fine and great and dandy. Until the battery dies. Because it seems that mechanically unlocking the car doesn't disable the alarm. And despite some hurried internet searching, I couldn't find any alternative ways to do this - at least not while the alarm was screaming loudly and the neighbours curtains were twitching.
This also leads to a nice catch-22: the only way to turn the alarm off and make the car drivable is to drive to a shop selling the (relatively rare and distinctly expensive) replacement batteries...
Strange. 2007 Honda CRV here, and its key remote uses a standard CR1616 battery. I always have a spare home, since they only last about 3-4 years. BTW the distance from which I can still (un)lock the car is the indicator; If it becomes too short it's time to change the battery lest it fails me at the most ill-timed moment.
> Strange. 2007 Honda CRV here, and its key remote uses a standard CR1616 battery
I did say relatively rare, not vanishingly rare :)
It's certainly not one that I tend to keep in my spare-battery box (unlike, say, CR2032s), and it's a bit hit and miss as to whether chain stores like Tesco, Wilcos etc will actually have any in stock.
And my traditional go-to for relatively rare electronic gubbins (at five times the online price because I need it NOW) was Maplins, which is no more.
I ended up hitting Timpsons, who charged me something like 7 or 8 quid for the replacement. Which felt a bit excessive for a battery of that size, but OTOH, it resolved the issue, and it'll almost certainly outlive the car...
To disable my alarm without the fob, you had to enter a numeric code. How to enter the code? Why, by opening and closing the driver's door the appropriate number of times of course, with a 3 second pause between each digit.
The code was 2649..
Open slam open slam, tick tick tick,
Open slam open slam open slam open slam open slam open slam, tick tick tick,
Open slam open slam open slam open slam, tick tick tick,
Open slam open slam open slam open slam open slam open slam open slam open slam open slam
Hopefully at that point the alarm would stop blaring, but between the door slamming and the alarm, the entire village would now be wide awake and very angry.
It was fun trying to get into my Mk IV Cortina (when it was still a contemporary vehicle) when water had frozen in the lock and door, and you needed to get to work.
Even these days, if water has met Jack Frost overnight around the seal, it's still slightly entertaining.
That reminds me on an Elektor joke circuit they published years ago: it was an heated key to defrost a doorlock. It was basically a managed shortcut that would heat up a power transistor so the assembly got toasty. It was perfectly functional and would heat quite well, you just had to plug it into the cigar lighter socket ..
Although you might regret it in summer when it warms up and the aroma develops :-)
It only works if the ice is only near the key entry point. And if it isn't too cold, otherwise your pee freezes too.
Back in the day (Cortina days), there was every likelihood you had a couple of quarts of frozen water in between the door panels so nothing could move. A kettle of hot water - kept away from the glass - poured over the outer panelling was your best bet.
I realised this one time because it was when you could repair cars yourself armed only with a hammer, adjustable spanner, and - if it was a more complex fix - a screwdriver. I had cause to remove the inner panelling from a door and was amazed at the basic and very open internal design - and especially the drain holes at the bottom which were blocked with rust/dirt and holding back at least a litre of stagnant water (or what could have been pee if I'd have been so inclined).
As I said, even these days, if it's been very wet and then it freezes overnight, the entire door can get frozen shut around the seal.
Promise me if you ever encounter that and decide to pee on it, call me first so I can watch :-D
"Back in the day (Cortina days), there was every likelihood you had a couple of quarts of frozen water in between the door panels so nothing could move. A kettle of hot water - kept away from the glass - poured over the outer panelling was your best bet."
Tesla uses that door design, but it's more efficient and doesn't take as much water so the freezing is faster.
Back in the days when I used to ride a motorbike, I had one occasion when riding through freezing fog on the way to work, where I then couldn't turn the ignition off with the application of a lighter, due to the key being iced into the ignition.
I had a Subaru with a very warn key. One day I reached down to turn the engine off and the key wasn't there. I had worked out & fallen on the floor. After that I realised that on a cold day I could start the engine, take out the key, get out and lock the door so that the car could warm up without leaving the car vulnerable to theft.
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The kitchenware industry is notorious for a steady stream of new gadgets that get used a few times & them put in the drawer.
Technological advances are rare. It took tens of thousands of years to get from knapped flint to any form of metal and a few more thousand to get to stainless steel. Again, tens of thousands of years to get from the open fire to the gas oven. A year of lockdown isn't going to have much impact there, especially when there's good money to be made in the much simpler task of flogging new attachments to the mixer.
"The kitchenware industry is notorious for a steady stream of new gadgets that get used a few times & them put in the drawer."
The technical term for those is "unitool" -- a tool good for only one purpose (e.g.: waffle maker), which takes up space the rest of the time.
The wife and I try to avoid buying these -- a strong case must be made for the purchase.
I used to have a thing about those when the shopping channels first appeared.
My favourite embarrassment has to be the Juice Extractor.
Yes, I thought. I can get healthy by making my own orange juice. Until I discovered how many oranges it takes to get a decent glassful of juice, and at the time, decent oranges were not particularly cheap in the UK.
Then I discovered how difficult it was to clean the micro-holed centrifuge thingy that separated the juice from the pulp (i.e. almost impossible).
After a few more goes, I discovered how bad pretty much anything other than oranges taste when you extract just the juice, and that you need even more apples than you do oranges to get anything decent to drink. It's been in the shed ever since.
I'm a big fan of carrot juice so I'll suffer the agony of cleaning out the extractor. There's a big carrot grower not too far away so when they are in season, I can get 10kg bags of "non-conforming" (ugly) carrots for pocket change. FCOJ (Frozen Concentrated Orange Juice) is too cheap to spend more on fresh squeezed for everyday consumption. In season I can get oranges cheap so I'll sometimes do the mangling myself on a Sunday (to go with the waffles). It's also one of those things that earn points with an SO. If you've landed yourself in the doghouse, do a nice breakfast with fresh squeezed to help dig yourself back out, but if you need a machine to keep up, you may want to pick up some self help books to get at the root problem.
When I run out of home-grown carrots & apples, I get mine from a local small farm aggregator. 50 pound bags for under $10 (less than half the wholesale price). They are mostly "blems", but the horses don't care. Nor do I ... twinned carrots and cosmetically ugly apples might not be sellable to millennials, hipsters & yuppies, but they are just as tasty as their "perfect" cousins.
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There's a fellow that's done a lot of popular cooking shows in the US, Alton Brown, who is seriously anti-gadget. You do need a set of really good tools to cook with but they tend to be very basic -- pots and pans, knives and spoons and spatulas to work the food with -- with anything beyond that being optional. The key is 'less quantity but higher quality' with the priviso that 'price and quality don't necessarily correlate' (that is, 'more expensive' doesn't automaticaly mean 'better').
That said, I think if there's one thing more useful than a microwave in the kitchen its two of them.
Microwaves seem like magic. Induction hob heating ditto. Perhaps we can heat food through friction? If you fired a potato from a cannon at a walk with sufficient speed, would enough if this kinetic energy be degraded to heat to cook the spud? Perhaps using a magnetic railgun instead of a canon (to avoid tainting the spud with the taste of gunpowder) would work, if you wrapped the spud in a ferrous metal foil?
Mantis shrimp can create bubbles of plasma by sheer kinetic force from their claws... Perhaps this mechanism can be adopted to cook (or merely sterilise as I'm led to believe shock waves can kill bacteria) food?
The XKCD makes assumptions that are not reliable.
1) it suggests that cooking a steak requires it to be well-done all the way through.
2) it seems to believe that salmonella is inside a steak - rather than just a surface infection that can be seared. It is minced beef which distributes surface infections inside things like hamburgers.
More importantly,’ I continued. ‘Why are you making plans to bash up the Bishop without me?’
Tin Ribs made up a lame excuse about thinking they’d seen a German spy in our garden. Fritz couldn’t lie to me though. He looked at his feet and said nothing.
‘Well? I insisted. This thing with the Bishop. What’s he done to deserve a bashing?’
Quite an amusing tale...
I note the wholly-Moley robot has to have all its ingredients prepared in individual boxes and stored carefully for access, presumably in the right order. (And the temptation to nip in and change all the utensils around on the back wall would be unbearable.)
After all that, it is a human who slops the stuff in to the bowl, which you would thought was the perfect task for a robot to do as it could handle hot bowls and artily arrange the stuff on the plate!
... there are far simpler and cheaper ways to automate cooking eg https://www.thermomix.com
Ah, thank you, yes. The Thermomix. That's the thingie I was trying to remember.
Two of my friends have these, and they both enthuse at length about how good the things are and how they are worth the astronomic price tag.
They both also sheepishly admit that they use them very seldom. They say that's because they forget ... but I suspect it's just too much trouble!
The price tag of £248,000 might make your eyes water but Moley Robotics claims to have more than 1,000 potential buyers
"After all that, it is a human who slops the stuff in to the bowl, which you would thought was the perfect task for a robot to do as it could handle hot bowls and artily arrange the stuff on the plate!"
That was what struck me as odd about it. They spent all that money and research to make robots that can handle human utensils, pans and equipment when the obvious route is NOT to mimic how meatsacks cook but use imagination to create an automated system that is simple and efficient. Imagine if automated productions lines were simply mechanical representations of human based production lines. You really don't want a robot hand picking up bolts and using cameras to identify which way up it is so it can be rotated if required to be the right way up. Nope, you use a bit of simple shaped and slotted channelling and some vibration to make all the bolts fall the right way as needed, not 10 grands worth of technology.
Exactly. The happy new owner has to purchase, wash, peel, chop/slice and portion all food to be cooked, and then put it all in the exactly correct position for the "chef". Which then proceeds to heat and stir them for you. IF it has the proper procedure for your selected meal stored in it's databank, AND you've put the ingredients in the proper location for it.
WOW! What a HUGE help in the kitchen.
This seems like as good as place as any to vent about a pet hate. Why on earth does anyone think a good place to place touch controls is a place that is regularly getting water / liquid spillages, stray bits of ingredients etc, making it occasionally impossible to work the controls, and occasionally getting them to activate without anyone touching them???
what's wrong with rotary dials???
Add to that the lack of any meaningful labelling of controls.
And another hate - cookers that need the clock set before the work. With shitty controls that are non-obvious and nobody has the manual any more. WTF is that about? If you worry about a cooker coming on after power fail just do a no-volt release/reset like machine tools have.
My electronic central heating timer had a back-up 9v battery. On the rare occasions when the power failed the battery was dead - and no warning indicator. It was also very difficult to change the battery.
When the display started to fail I bought the replacement model - which turned out to be not quite compatible with the old backplate. Anyway - not a big problem.
No accessible back-up battery this time - presumably using an in-built rechargeable or a super-capacitor. It also makes the twice a year DST changes automatically based on an algorithm for the current legislated dates.
"With shitty controls that are non-obvious and nobody has the manual any more"
What drives me nuts are companies that remove the manuals or any mention of the model you have from their web site. Hey, these things last decades and PDF manuals are small. The other tactic is to charge for them. The service manual for a big Yamaha mixing console took half a tree to print out, but a digital download is nothing. Many times, the cost of getting the docs has meant sending something to landfill as they conveniently scrubbed off the markings of the IC's and transistors.
what's wrong with rotary dials???
They're a bugger to clean, to clean under, to clean behind. If you pull the knob off to clean behind it the little piece of spring that's supposed to hold it in place goes flying across the kitchen never to be seen again (and can only be replaced by buying a whole new knob, which costs a fortune and doesn't match the others).
Not so bad on a freestanding cooker whose controls can be on the front and out of the way of spills and splashes, but modern surface-mounted hobs always seem to have the knobs on top where they are right in line for spillage and stop you using large pans on the adjacent rings.
One of these days some manufacturer will introduce a hob without any controls whatsoever - to be controlled by voice using Siri/Echo/Google Assistant etc
Or may be even a hob with only 1 control - which you have to cycle through to get to the cooking position and then select the heat setting. On the annoyance scale, that would rate the same as torches with multiple modes off a single push button switch
The only things with a remote are my Nintendo Wii and my old CRT TV.
Well technically my Nintendo Switch controllers are remotes I guess?
The only stuff conected online are my router, my two smartphones and my two computers but they are not online all the time.
So far 2021 has not been horrible we got vaccines and... if you care about politics the crazy orange is no longer the USA president.
That's still better that we had last year.
" if you care about politics the crazy orange is no longer the USA president"
Now there is no telling who's in charge with the Alzheimers patient that "won" the election. The big question is when the VP will take over and what insider will be appointed to the VP job.
object types that got stuck in people’s orifices and had to be removed
My older sister had to go to hospital after she pushed twenty peas up her nostrils. I'd like to say fifty in reference to Cool Hand Luke, but she was only six.
And no I didn't do it to her but I took it as a warning, "If I do this to my nose just imagine what I'll shove up yours."
Her next trip to the hospital was more serious when she jumped off our tenement holding an umbrella after seeing Mary Poppins. Sadly she is the smart one in our family and I repeated the trick years later with a home made parachute after seeing 'A Bridge Too Far'. Trial and error isn't a great test technique when you only get one chance, despite it working for my Action Man.
If you look at the list of tasks there are for preparing food, they've all been covered very well. There are little metal/plastic things with sort of a curved piece and protrusion on to do that one task you might need to do for that dish you only make on one holiday a year. If you aren't invited someplace else. It's only does that one job and since it's made in Asia very cheaply, it will do the job poorly and no more than twice before it's landfill. If you store it for too long, it's another thing that will turn to that dust that accumulates at the back of the drawer. Either that or it's the one thing that often jams the drawer so it won't open. Followers of Anoia may not mind as it gains them celestial credits.
That's another thing.
This small bit of plastic 'with a raffia-work base, which has an attachment'* usually sells for £49.99 on the shopping channels, yet you can buy a pack of three on AliExpress for £5.99.
* Life of Brian, Boring Prophet #3
I'm going to go a bit broader than necessarily kitchen tools, but the impossible device I want is an automatic clothes-folder*. This device would be able to take things from the clothes basket after drying**, assess what it is***, what size it is, fold it appropriately, and put it in a pile with other items of the same type****.
If anyone invented such a device, you know it would be a pain to use, with each individual item having to be logged into a database with the appropriate type, user, orientation (which way is up, which is right side out), correct way to fold it... I'll know that we have true AI when a machine can do this on its own, Kryten style.
*It is the one chore in the house I detest - a job with no rewards at all.
** I don't mind sorting clothes from the washer into tumble dry/air dry, or collecting them once dry (except from the line when it suddenly starts to rain).
*** E.g. Knowing the difference between pyjamas and day clothes, boxers and shorts.
****Two male, two female; two small, one medium height but a bit round, one tall and fairly lanky.
I have a $50 single induction hot plate. It starts off at 2000 watts which is enough to damage pans in about 15 seconds. I use it at the 200C setting 99% of the time and that would have made a much more reasonable default. It is odd that a $50 device can maintain a temperature yet the $2,000 built in types don't have that feature. The cheap one also keeps track of how many kWh I use when cooking which might be handy for using the thing in a caravan of off grid solar.
Why don't modern stoves have a "hold this temperature" setting? Are temp sensors on the glass too hard? I guess they aren't since my $50 device has it. They could also use IR detectors in the vent hood to read the temp of the soup.
Where is the magnetic stirrer? Chemistry labs have had nice hot plates that allow a magnetic bar to be placed in the food which allows it to be stirred. They also seem to be able to maintain very accurate temperatures.
I'm would like knobs with proper detents that work in deg C which is what is needed in cooking, not useless "gas numbers" which is how much energy you are pumping into a dish. Knobs also work for people who can't see that well. Every try to use a modern induction stove when blind? The best tech for blind people due to burn risk isn't usable because of touch on glass controls.
I want a microwave that doubles as a stove vent hood. The better ones will move more than enough air for a gas cook top and that amount of air keeps the microwaved food from getting soggy due to humidity. Too bad they aren't legal in Australia due to someone leaving out "or per manufacturers recommendations" in a standard when they copied it from overseas.
Just when you think that there can be no further improvements in cooking you get devices like the Panasonic "FlasheXpress" toaster oven. This changed the entire 'metal box with heating element' design by simply replacing those traditional heating elements by IR emitters in silica tubes. The result is a miniature oven that doubles as a very competent toaster and, unlike most of the breed, does it wiithout requiring an extensive warmup period or becoming red-hot while its working.
Another Japanese innovation that's often overlooked is the rice cooker. Their culture uses a lot of rice and they have varieties, like to cook it properly and keep it warm without it turning into an inedible mass. This requires some design ingenuity. If you've not experienced one of these devices (a proper one, not the $10 cheapie) then they're worth a look.
The problem with innovation in home cooking is that its not really something that works at home (unless you've got a really big family). Even the humble curry benefits from being made in really big batches, naan isn't something you can make at home easily (and frozen just lacks that je ne sais quoi). Sous vide and flash freezing aren't appropriate for home use -- they're like home jam making, great if all you want is to live off that same batch of jam for the next decade. This is what prompted the rise of instant dinners, part cooked so all you do is microwave ("Go get a TeeVee dinner and cook it up....."), convenient, practical, wasteful and nutritionally suspect. Maybe I'll just stick to 'boring'.
+1 for the rice cooker. After working for a large Japanese company back-in-the-day, and seeing the dozen pages of clever, compact, mess-free 'cookers available in the employees' catalogue I always hankered after one. And now they are available in 220-240V form!
(Mine is WiFi enabled. :-o)
Another +1. When I came to the UK from Hong Kong, my rice cooker was one of my precious belongings that I brought with me, as well as my slow cooker. Dump loads of veg+gristle in before work, come home to a delicious stoo. Fill the rice cooker and set the timer, and DING! evening meal as you walk through the door.
"And now they are available in 220-240V form!"
Sony workers after WW2 made a home-produced product of a rice cooker. They took the traditional cooking container made of wood - and added a few bare electrical wires in the bottom for mains heating.
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